I’m tucked into my office chair. Coffee mug to the left. Mouse to the right. Some peaceful beats and a cup of warm coffee. Read that back slowly and it sounds so cozy, but I didn’t mention my aching knees, the sharp stabbing in my lower back, and the tenseness in my neck that’s spreading to my shoulder.
Humans are working more than ever, but less of our work is labor. There’s been a large increase in jobs that are either sedentary or involve light physical labor. We’re sitting more, and it’s killing us. Don’t believe me? Read this article. Or this one. Or this. Or just Google “sitting all day.” There’s even a website called “Just Stand” that’s all about standing instead of sitting!
Imagine your job. Now imagine being a lumberjack. There’s some quaint dignity in the pain a lumberjack must feel after a hard day’s work. Back pain from lugging branches and stumps around. Sore arms from wielding a chainsaw. A tired body ready for dinner and a long, deep sleep. When I crawl out of my chair at 5 p.m. I have all those pains, but nothing tangible to attribute them to. My back doesn’t hurt because I was John Henry moving mountains. I just mistreated it all day and it hates me.
This is a public service announcement to be aware of your sitting habits. I don’t expect you to shell out a few grand for a standing desk, but keep it on your mind. Be aware of your body. Do some body assessments throughout the day. How do I feel? Have I moved much today? Is my back stuck in one position? Is my blood even circulating? If it takes more than a couple seconds to straighten out after you stand up, it’s time to get moving.
If you realize you’ve been stuck at a right angle all day, do something about it! Stand up. Bend and stretch. Go for a short walk each hour. Try a walking meeting. Instead of replying to co-workers’ emails, pay them a quick visit. Do some office yoga, or some chair yoga–it’s awesome!
If you work in an office, this isn’t something that will change overnight. You can’t be active all day and still work on a computer (yet; in the future we’ll all practically be computers, so we can exercise while we’re making a PowerPoint, updating websites, combining Excel sheets, and all that). Anyway, start small. When you check the clock to see if it’s five yet, why not make that when you stand up and stretch? Do a couple laps around the building if it’s nice out. Do anything to take a break and get moving! Just some food for thought (which reminds me, we’ll have to discuss all those workday treats soon, but that’s another day).